My good friend Ann Kozma and I were both at the Apple Institute in 2015 as part of their new class of Apple Distinguished Educators, but that is not were we met. We literally met all the same people, but apparently we were just missing each other and were never at the same place at the same time. I kept hearing "OMG Jake, you have to meet Ann. You guys are like spirit animals." But our paths just never crossed that Summer.
So when did I finally "meet" this Apple Distinguished, CUE Rockstar, generally amazing educator from Southern California? Well, randomly, we met via a Google Hangout between EdCamp Hawaii and EdCamp North Orange County. I was running the Hawaii side and Ann the California side as we discussed coding and programming. I heard so much about her earlier that summer that we started Tweeting each other ,incognito style (I think it began when she Tweeted "I see you @TeachingJake"!), during the hangout and we have been buddies every since. (Side Note: Our actual first face to face meeting was a BBQ joint in Austin, TX at South by Southwest EDU).
I recently saw this pic of her retweeted by my buddy Rabbi Michael Cohen (@TheTechRabbi). It was from Ann's Digital Storytelling Playground at ISTE in San Antonio this Summer. I loved it because it tied right to my summer blogging topic. But I also loved it because it shows just how small an engaging educational technology experience can be! Ann was modeling how to use a lego mini figure and green playdough as the character and background in a DoInk Green Screen app project! Most primary level classrooms will have legos and playdough and coupled with the green screen technology, students could be creating stories right away! It was such a good reminder that not all educational technology experiences have to be huge productions and that sometimes the smallest ideas can grow to be the biggest learning success.
Amy Prosser wrote an article for ISTE titled "Start small when integrating ed tech". She writes about her sister getting a new set of iPads in her classroom which created some anxiety on how to use them. She crafted the article in response to her sister's anxiety and anyone else possibly in the same position. She encourages teachers to not spend 50 hours creating the perfect technology project but rather to think of lessons already happening in their classrooms and how technology can make those more engaging. She lays out the following pieces of advice:
1. Start small
Pick a small piece of curriculum to enhance.
2. Make it meaningful
Think of ways to engage students while increasing their audience.
3. Seek YouTube tutorials
YouTube is amazing resources that help you learn new tools.
4. Practice using it first
Always important to tinker and try things first!
5. Don't let setbacks get you down
Setbacks will happen but this is how we learn.
So instead of thinking of the "next giant technology step" for your classroom try and think of the first tiny step you can take in incorporating technology into your classroom. And as you journey into new and exciting educational technology worlds, don't forget to collect amazing friends and peers along the way, just like my spirit animal, Ann.